Gear Review: TwentyTwo Designs AXL Telemark Binding

The perfect touring/skiing binding.

“If you want one binding for touring and skiing, this is it,” says one East Coast tester. “It’s the first free-pivot binding with three cable-guide positions, which gives it more natural flex through the entire range of your tele turn than any binding that’s come before.” Translation: While other telemark bindings have a point at which the flex stops during a turn (creating a jerky feel), the AXL’s cables, which track along the boot sole, allow your boot and foot to flex freely.

The binding and heel lift engage with the flick of a pole, and the entire thing is field-adjustable, so you can switch your flex point according to the snow conditions or comfort. Same goes for the heel lift: It flicks into climbing mode with a gentle tug of your pole and stays secure the whole time you’re hiking. “It’s not the lightest binding,” says one tester, “but the performance in the steeps is about as burly as you can get. Yet it’s perfectly suited to touring, whether I was on moderate terrain, like Norway’s Folgefonna Glacier, or more challenging stuff, like Teton Pass.” $320; 3 lbs. 11 oz.; twentytwodesigns.com